Once you can name something, you’re conscious of it. You have power over it. You’re in control. You own it.” – Robin P. Williams, author

Of the forming crystal
we must never speak.

Something resides at distant congregation
of dodger blue sky and cobalt water,

just out of sight, and I strain to see,
impervious to your presence.

By what right do you utter my name,
seek to control my awareness

as if you decided, not me,
that there is danger here?

It is my foot that hovers, ready to step,
blind, into the next movement.

Perhaps we must speak after all
to deny denial’s power to delude.

Speak of the loneliness
threatening to crush and suffocate.

Speak of the addiction
which has become our unnamed god.

Speak to break the spell that curses
beautiful rose, shrivels it to ugly corpse.

But what if the enchantment
was meant to coalesce sand into pearl?

Perhaps speaking should be left
on tongue-tip, not quite membered.

Sound of footfalls in dense forest
leave us unsure what approaches.

Is it our prey or that which hunts us
or something we have not yet imagined?

We cannot name what we don’t know,
only that we don’t know it.

Only that we fear the foreboding
of the unseen we hear come near.

Only that we remain unsure
whether to shout the world into submission

or remain muzzled and serve,
bound by our silence.


Note: The first line of this poem (italicized above) is the final line of the poem “Making Peace” by Denise Levertov.

©2023 Kenneth W. Arthur